Remembrance & Apologies

On this Memorial Day, Americans attend parades, visit cemeteries and enjoy picnics while honoring the men and women who served, or currently serve, in the U.S. Military.  Many of those soldiers now lie in graves while many more carry the physical and mental scars of combat.

While remembrance and appreciation are the primary purpose of this holiday, I feel that apologies are in order as well.  After all, much of the personal sacrifice that we honor occurred in wars that were ill-advised, undertaken by politicians who misinterpreted (or took advantage of) regional conflicts and over-hyped their international implications; Vietnam and the second Iraq War surely fall into this category.  Even today, hawkish members of Congress are pushing for more American involvement in Syria and Iraq, ignoring the sectarian hatred that, until abandoned, will fuel social unrest in those regions.

More than 400,000 gravestones grace the manicured lawns of Arlington National Cemetery.  Many more military cemeteries dot the American landscape and foreign countries as well.  It's time that we are more thoughtful and cautious in our use of military force across the globe.  While we will continue to honor those who have served, the need for apologies must end.